Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Advice From A Pro
A few weeks ago, I bought the book ARNOLD - THE EDUCATION OF A BODY BUILDER by Arnold Schwarzenegger, per the recommendation of someone on one of the body building message boards.
I read the book from cover-to-cover, high-lighting certain parts. Now I go back over it and skim it when I feel the need. No matter what I may think of Arnold as an actor or a politician, few would argue what he brought to the body building world when he picked up his first weight at age 15.
At that at time, Arnold weighed only 150 pounds on a 6-ft plus frame. Everyone told him that he was too tall and didn't have the right kind of body to build impressive mass. So much for what "they" say, huh?
Arnold ignored the naysayers and 30 years ago built a physique that is still legendary today and probably will be for decades to come. So I am inclined to listen when someone like this wants to give advice on reaching my goals-- which are no where near as demanding as becoming a world champion.
One thing Arnie suggested is that you search for photos of someone whose body would be your ideal. This person's image should be a realistic comparison to yourself if you were at your best. In other words, if you are white and short and set out to look like Venus or Serena Williams that is not a realistic goal for you to attain.
Your ideal should be a stretch for you and really give you something to strive for, and yet it should not be beyond the realm of possibility if you worked hard enough. Arnie found his ideal in a body builder that was famous during that time named Reg Park.
Reg Park was Arnold's height and basic body style but had built up an incredible amount of mass and raw power. Arnie put pics of Reg Park all over. He lived, breathed and ate Reg Park until-- guess what? - One day he competed against his idol in a body building competition, and WON!
And so, I have been searching all over for the image of a woman that would inspire me. I am 6'3" so the image of anyone short is not going to cut it. Also, I will NEVER be willowy, not ever. There is a natural layer of muscle on my body that was there long before I ever thought of lifting weights. So there is a natural strength and a tendency to look thick and athletic rather than willowy-- and I have spent the past few months apologizing to my body for all of the years that I could not accept that! I have to work with what I've been given.
I found some amazons on the body building sites and message boards who are my height or taller. But some of them have taken the muscle thing a lot farther than I would like to do. If you're a tall gal like me and you bring your body fat way down after building a lot of muscle, well, that cut-up look seems too masculine on a tall gal. I prefer the look of a tall woman who has built muscle and definately looks athletic, but who has left enough body fat to soften the look.
ANYWAY, after much searching, the image on the top of this post is about the closest I've come, so far, to an "ideal" for me. The woman in the photo above is 1/2 an inch taller than me and weighs 200 pounds-- which is my goal weight right now.
Yeah, I know, those of average height marvel that a woman can weigh 200 pounds and look that fit. But that is what I am striving for. I am probably 20-30 years older than this woman, gave birth to five kids-- three of them triplets, had two abdominal surgeries and smoked two packs a day for nearly twenty years.
So is it realistic to think that I can look EXACTLY like her? Probably not. But, based on my body style, this would be my ideal if I were to achieve it, so I plan to get as close to this as is possible given my age and personal history. Like her, I am tall and strong with a tendency for large, thick muscles. I am small breasted at my goal weight, as she is. My calves seem thin compared to my thighs, as hers do. Our coloring is similar. So this is it. Her pic is on the cover of my fitness journal, on the cork board above my computer, on the refrigerator door, even in the van so I see it when we drive around!
As Arnie suggested, everyday, several times a day, I picture myself reaching my goals. I close my eyes and picture myself 6 months from now, shopping for new clothes to wear during my trip to South Dakota. It will be the height of summer and very hot-- so my arms and legs will be bare-- but I won't mind, as all of the running and weight training will have brought me to a point where clothes look good on me.
I see myself shopping for short skirts, sun dresses and shorts at my goal weight. I see myself around the time of my wedding anniversary in July, picking out a black dinner dress to wear out to dinner with my husband. I see myself wearing the dress with silk stockings and black T-strap sandals, and my husband being proud to be seen with me as we take our seats in our favorite restaurant.
Before I walk/run or work out, I think about all of these things, and I think about the sacrifices and hard work and determination and sheer force of will that it is going to take to get me to that point. If I put a half-hearted effort into my walking/running and go to the gym and do garbage reps with light weights then I will never achieve my goals!
The woman in the photo above did not achieve her state of fitness by being comfortable. She ate fish and egg whites when her friends ate pizza, and she refused to feel sorry for herself-- because she KNEW where she was going. She skipped the booze at the office parties and business lunches and ordered ice water with a twist of lime instead; she worked out- HARD - when she was weary and doing so was the last thing that she wanted to do.
She was not "comfortable" during cardio or weight training, she was out-of-breath, sweaty, tired, sore --- she knew that "comfortable" wasn't going to get her the results that you see there, so she pushed and pushed.
And so, I close my eyes before I exercise, and think about all of this stuff,and "see" my ideal and remind myself over and over and over again every day that my results are going to follow my efforts, Period. It is not realistic to think that your results will exceed your efforts. Not with this. Not with fitness. There is no way to be dishonest or to fake it here. Either your ass fits into your running shorts or it doesn't. End of story.
And this is what I think about everyday when I make choices about food and exercise and proper rest. And ya know what? Arnie was right. This has helped me a great deal!
If I want to stop shopping in the plus department and look good next summer for the first time in years-- no one is going to hand it to me. This is something that only I can achieve for myself and it is going to take sacrifice and hard work. This time of year, when I repeatedly have to stare-down plates of Christmas cookies and treats, booze, and carbs out the wazoo-- I may lose my way if I put my dream aside for the temporary pleasure of sugar cookies and glasses of wine. It is hard this time of year. Victory would not be anywhere near as sweet if the journey weren't this hard! I CAN do this.
So if you're having trouble focusing on your program because you aren't sure what you are fighting for. Get sure. Find an ideal for health and body image and keep it in front of you at all times.
Also, just wanted to let everyone know that I ran a complete mile today! YEA! I went to the beach/boardwalk where it is not HILLY like my neighborhood, just to see how far I could go at a stretch and it was just over a mile. So this is a proud day for me!
The weather here this week will be more tolerable than it was last week, so I should be able to get more walking/jogging intervals in-- and I am happy about that as I really feel like the running is what is going to help me get rid of the remaining fat.
Jeff went back to work today after being home sick yesterday. His being home threw off my schedule so I have a busy day to get on with! Be good to you today!
P.S. I didn't buy the Arnold book for training or nutritional tips. In that sense, the book is dated as they didn't know (for sure) some of the things about nutrition and body building that we know today. Even the photos are dated and that cracks me up. I bought the book because it is a story of determination to change ones body and what kind of focus that takes. From that point of view-- I enjoyed the book!
I'll be back.................... LOL